Killing Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis

Killing Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis

Most of the attention in this recent attack by a US drone at the Baghdad Airport has been on it killing Iranian Quds Force commander, Qasim (Qassem) Solmaini (Suleimani), supposedly plotting an “imminent” attack on Americans as he flew a commercial airliner to Iraq at the invitation of its government and passed through passport control.  But much less attention has been paid to the killing in that attack of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, commander  of the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq and reportedly an officer in the Iraqi military, as well as being, according to Juan Cole, a Yazidi Kurd, although the PMF is identified as being a Shia militia allied with Iran.

The problem here is that supposedly US leaders approved this strike because there were no Iraqi officials in this group; it was supposedly “clean.”  But there was al-Muhandis, with his PMF also allied to a political faction, the Fath, who hold 48 seats in the Iraqi parliament.  The often anti-Iranian Shia leader, Moqtada al-Sadr, has now joined with Fath and other groups to demand a vote in the parliament to order a withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.  It might be good for them to go, although Trump has just sent in 3,500 more Marines to protect the US embassy that came under attack and protests after an earlier US attack on pro-Iranian militias.

Solemaini may have been ultimately behind the killing of up to 600 Americans by pro-Iranian militias during the war in Iraq.  But he has also worked with the US both in the aftermath of 9/11/01 against the Taliban in Afghanistan and more recently against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh in Iraq, with those efforts not jeopardized by this US attack.

There is much more that can be said about this, but among less noticed responses I note that although Israeli PM Netanyahu made a strong statement supporting the attack, apparently he has ordered his aides not to talk about it further, and the Israelis are worried about possible escalation of this  In KSA, “Bone-Saw” MbS has said nothing, although supposedly the Saudi had sought to kill Solemaini themselves.

Oh, and of course Mike Pompeo announced that this move has made Americans “safe” in the region, even as Americans have been urged to leave Iraq immediately.  So, yeah, they will be more safe by getting the heck out.

Oh, and of course Solemaini has been replaced by his deputy, who I imagine will continue whatever nefarious plots Solemaini was working on.  The idea that killing Solemaini will slow any of this down, especially now with many Shia invoking Solemaini as a martyr, a major theme of Shiism, looks highly unlikely.

Barkley Rosser